Last weekend, it was Delhi’s turn to host India’s happiest music festival. Here’s are the highlights!
It made you want to get there and be a part of the buzz in that instance. And that was super easy as the box office was very efficient with surprisingly fast moving queues. The security checks were a little less stringent this year or at least they didn’t make anyone uncomfortable. The 9000 limit really eased up the whole place.
The venue layout was very well planned with all the stages forming an outer circle, facing away from the inner circle which is where the glorious, gorgeous food, the shiny things at the flea market, few of the bars and of course the Ferris wheel. As soon as you entered a map of the venue and a schedule helped you get straight to the action. Direction boards were all over and very useful, the only sign missing was for the exit which was probably intentional.
A Ferris wheel is the most awesome thing to happen to a music festival or at least as much as a hot air balloon. The wheel saw a constant flow of festival goes hop on and off as it gave them a good view of how much was happening all around them at the same time. The best part about a ride is when it’s for free. And when you can take your cigarettes and drinks with you.
Food and drink could be ‘acquired’ with relative ease, as token counters were scattered across the venue. Unless you wanted a beef burger at the Hot Rocks BBQ. It was juicy, grilled right there and you could add the sauces you liked by yourself. Heavenly. The Waffles stall and the Pollo Tropical stall saw a lot of hungry folk getting their hands dirty with the nutella waffle and one of the best chicken wings you could get.
At the flea market the Go Spiff stall selling some of the finest vintage glasses drew a lot of Le Hipsters. The Party Hunters filled the entire festival with Guy Fawkes, Vikings and the desi rakshashas. Curious people couldn’t help but move towards the Dream Catcher stall which was well deserved.
And now, the music!
And everybody watched them from up close
And So I Watched You From Afar are four of the most melodic ass kickers who fueled the post-rock starved masses of the NCR. Their signature happy yet haunting riffs took everyone straight to Ireland and Chris Wee’s explosive drumming reminded them that they were still at home. The frequent ‘Whoos’ and ‘Aahs’ made their face melting music seem pretty. Playing the more popular tracks they cleaned up with “Big Thinks do Remarkable”, “Set guitars to kill” to top their set.
The Noori and getting Lucky
Noori the rock band from Lahore had a magnetic field over the crowd. Having already established a fan base in India with their performance in Coke Studio Pakistan, Ali Noor bonded well with everyone. Their music was familiar, fun and very catchy. Giving references of an estranged girlfriend Ali added more meaning to his tunes like “Tu hasti hai” and “Hookah Bar” for everyone. And then it was time for ‘Aik Alif’ the popular song that made them popular here, it was a rush to hear the fans sing the chorus entranced. Noori also did their version of the Bhenchod song that’s already very popular.
The Dewarist stage was taken over by the singer/songwriter Lucky Ali. The all-time favourite singer had the crowd singing every song of his. It was a nostalgic set as everyone had heard the songs in their childhood. A romantic and mellow set had everyone swaying and the zippo apps waving to the sound of “Maut”, “Khirama” and “Oh Sanam”.
The meth lab stage and the electronic trio
The real feel of the Red Bull Tour Bus stage came alive when the Dualist Enquiry Band got on top. Sandunes and Jivraj ‘Jiver’ joined forces with Sahej Bakshi to form a one of its kind live electronic music band of the country. Starting early with Adustam which echoed throughout the venue pulled up a huge gathering of people doing the funkiest of moves, chilling on bean bags and basking in the glow of the bus. Sandunes, with her post-dubstep/future garage synth sounds and Jiver giving remarkable drumming added essential layers to the Dualist Enquiry set list. New Delhi having seen Dualist Enquiry a lot was not expecting this and was pleasantly surprised.
Before the DEB there was Hey Geronimo on the Red Bull Tour Bus. They Australian pop band was quite a surprise for festival goers and the timing of their set was perfect. Happy, hop-skipping and jumping people were abound as the sun set to songs from their EP and the peak being “Laser gun show”.
Benga and Koocha
The bass dropper had a lot of people rediscover themselves. As they gyrated at the Eristoff Wolf’s Den, they knew that this is what they were born to do. Hitting the sickest drops, the bass could be felt traveling under your feet and not a soul could stand still. Benga also brought out the true colours (lights) of the stage transforming the place to something interstellar. Baltimore Clap and Smells like teen spirit brought an end to the steady crescendo of Benga land. And cleared the stage for the Koocha Monster, Mr Nucleya. There was no possible reason to leave the stage. “F%&* that shit” was happening like it was a religious ritual. Nucleya was spotted chilling with his son the next day and also adding his monstrosity to the Karsh Kale Collective and the All Stars performance which culminates the festival every year.
Meshuggah, the most anticipated act of Day 1 ended the day for Bacardi Arena with gut wrenching power of djent metal. Being the pioneers of the genre they sure gave a heavy dose of poly-rhythms, playing Rational Gaze, obZen, Bleed, Pravus and even from the newer album, Koloss to complete the sound spectrum of the day.
Day 2 picked up the tempo after a chilled out set by Sandunes and actually kick starting with the Ska Vengers at the Arena. Delhi Sultanate and Samara C were at their energetic best, this combined with the powerful saxophone and keys brushed off that energy to the crowd.
J.Viewz, the electronic music producer and composer along with his guests took the Wolf’s Den by surprise. Gripping visuals made his set come alive and everyone (including the Dualist Enquiry Band and friends) was cozying up in front of the stage, with their buckets and bags. While this was on Moniker- the Wild City DJ played a very tight and very well balanced set of grime and deep house at the Pepsi Dub-Station.
Math rock? Alt rock? Post rock? Mutemath were up and only went higher. The most gripping sound heard at the Weekender NCR 2013 was theirs. One the stage and in the “Spotlight” theirs was a performance that had moments of awe coming all throughout. “Blood Pressure”, “You are mine”, “Armistice” it was an onslaught of awesome. Paul Meany pulled off some handstands on his keyboard which was as shocking as brilliant. Darren King could be seen beating the drums from all around, even getting up and moving around the kit as Paul and Todd joined him in the percussions.
Manganiyar Seduction was a surprise as Nile Rogers had a no show. It was the best surprise if at all things could get better. The Hollywood boxes format by Roysten Abel in itself is such an experience to absorb that the folk musicians only make better. An earthen/ethnic sound so meticulously composed even the metal heads were enjoying themselves here. The number of performers making their permutations larger created the most varied sounds within one single set.
Although Manganiyar Seduction was good the Kill Paris was doing something completely different. “This is not dubstep”, “Is this dubstep?” were common things to be heard in the beginning of his set which decimated to a collective groove that was almost customary to do while Kill Paris was on the stage. Shifting from guitar blues to dubstep and then downtempo-tronica, he kept everyone on their toes till the realized it was over.
Between the sets, food, rides etc the two things that kept the spirits high were the buckets and the bean bags. There were plenty of both and people were making themselves at home with these wherever you looked.
With the past years this time’s Weekender was far more efficient. All sets started on time, there was no confusion about the stages and how to get there. Ample food, drinks and places to just sit back and have a good time. The cops and authorities did their job without disturbing the spirit of the festival leaving only more happiness to propagate.
(Words and photographs by Gaurav Sharma)